June 7, 2012

Why I LOVE the International Boxing Hall of Fame

I'm giddy with excitement. Today is like the day before Christmas for me. I hope I can get to sleep tonight!

That's because tomorrow morning I make my pugilistic pilgrimage from Boston all the way to Boxing Heaven - the International Boxing Hall of Fame (IBHOF) in Canastota, NY. It's Induction Weekend again and there is no place in the world I'd rather be than Canastota, a quaint little village town located right off the New York Thruway.

Exit 34 to be exact!

Canastota is home to the IBHOF, birth place of Carmen Basilio and Billy Backus - and for die-hard boxing fans like me, it really is like dying and going to Boxing Heaven. And the best part is, you can go every year if your heart desires and your budget allows it! 

This year's induction class is headlined by Thomas "Hitman" Hearns, Mark "Too Sharp" Johnson, Al Bernstein, Freddie Roach, Michael Buffer, and Michael Katz. What a great thrill it will be to see these men bask in the adulation of their friends, fans, rivals, and peers. There is no greater honor in boxing than induction into the Boxing Hall of Fame and each and every inductee (past and present) is deserving in their own special way.

But what is it about the IBHOF that I truly love?

At the IBHOF, people are incredibly polite, respectful, and knowledgeable when it comes to boxing. That is something I appreciate and cherish. At the IBHOF, fighters mingle with fans and usually sign autographs quite willingly. You can see that the fighters enjoy these interactions as much, if not more than the fans who idolize them. It's truly an amazing dynamic and one that I'm lucky to have been a part of in 1997, 2003, 2011 and now again in 2012. 

I love the fact that I get to see my friends and colleagues in the boxing community. It's like a wonderful family reunion among friends - and speaking of friends, I am absolutely certain that I'll make many new friends this weekend and that's another one of the great things about boxing and the IBHOF in particular, just how easy it is to make friends in that wonderful fistic fraternity of fans, fighters, and fellow writers.

I love the IBHOF because it's the last place on Earth that truly takes me back to my early years of extreme boxing fandom (the 80's and 90's) and makes me feel like I'm still living in those days. From the memorabilia show on Saturday afternoon to the VIP Cocktail reception on Saturday night, all the way to the Banquet of Champions, and then through to the Induction Ceremony on Sunday - being at the IBHOF for Induction Weekend is like walking through a dream in the nostalgia capital of MY world! 

It's like dying and going to Boxing Heaven.

That's why I LOVE the International Boxing Hall of Fame!

KO Digest Editor in Chief Jeffrey Freeman at the IBHOF